Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson insists his team’s European qualification rests on Saturday’s Danske Premiership shoot-out with Portadown at the Oval.
Following straight defeats by Glenavon and Linfield, the East Belfast boys are facing the possibility of dropping off the radar in terms of claiming a top four place.
They are now six points adrift of Cliftonville, Glenavon and Portadown, who are all locked on 60 from their 35 starts.
With the top two places almost certainly decided, it looks sure to be a frenetic finale for the chasing four clubs.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the Glens as they still have the Irish Cup final on May 2 on the horizon, which could well open up an avenue to Europe.
“The Linfield result has put a huge dent in our European qualification,” said Patterson. “There is no one more disappointed than the boys in the dressing room. They have worked tirelessly all year.
“Once you get to this stage, the games are all massive. We’ll regroup and try to get a result against Portadown.
“Teams are always going to take points each other at this stage. I think Tuesday proved that. You just don’t know what is up ahead. There will be twists and turns right to the finish.”
The Glens will be without the injured Barry Holland due to injury. Defender Marcus Kane could also miss out having picked up a virus this week, while Curtis Allen is still suspended. On the plus side, influential midfielder Stephen McAlorum is back in action. It was no coincidence that he was missing for the last two games due to suspension.
“Yes, we were all disappointed with the Linfield result,” added Patterson. “We were looking to bounce back after the defeat at Mourneview Park.”
Portadown manager Ronnie McFall was buoyed by his team’s 1-0 win over title chasing Crusaders, even though he had a posse of his players watching on.
“David Miskelly played even though he still wasn’t fully recovered from a hamstring injury,” said McFall.
“Billy Brennan was sent off at the weekend, so he had to sit out an automatic one match ban. Robbie Garrett is now free from suspension, but we’ll have a check on the boys who are carrying injuries.”